More than 700 delegates—a new attendance record—descended on the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center outside Denver for the 2019 Siemens Automation Summit. With an agenda driven by users of the company’s industrial automation solutions, the Summit has become a key educational and networking event for companies looking to further optimize their investments in the Siemens ecosystem. It’s also an important opportunity to hear from company leadership about recent developments and vision going forward.
Two significant developments took center stage at the Summit:
The formation on April 1st of Siemens Digital Industries, a new organization that brings together Siemens’ global capabilities focused on the automation and digitalization of process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing industries.
The launch of SIMATIC PCS neo, a new distributed control system (DCS) that leverages web technologies to deliver improved usability, scalability and global collaboration.
Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and simulation-based digital twins are driving change across industry at an unprecedented rate, said Raj Batra, president of Digital Industries, U.S., in the Summit’s opening keynote address. Voice assistance technologies like Siri and Alexa will make their presence felt in industry, Batra said, as part of a 1,000% annual growth rate in their use projected over the next five years. “Digital twins in particular, tuned by AI, can do things that people can’t.”
“You’ll see artificial increasingly intertwined in industry,” Batra predicted. And industry will no longer be satisfied with the delayed gratification of long project cycles. “Industry now has expectations in line with consumers,” Batra added. “It’s ROI now, not in seven years.”
“Speed and scale are keys to success in the digital age,” Batra said.
Global scale and perspective
With the formation of Siemens Digital Industries, the company certainly brings scale to the digitalization party. The new organization represents about one-fourth of Siemens’ global business, €15.6 billion in 2018 revenues and some 78,000 employees worldwide. As such, it is perhaps the largest organization in the world formed with an explicit mission to deliver industrial innovation through the integration of software and hardware, based on deep domain know-how.
The Digital Enterprise portfolio that the new organization brings to bear includes vertical solutions in process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing. “It’s one thing to think global, another to be global,” Batra added. “There are many common threads across regions and across industries. We want to be pioneers in transforming how these industries work,” Batra said.
Flexibility, time-to-market and productivity are the big three business requirements that digital technology—and Siemens expertise—can help to solve. As examples, Batra cited the specialization and smaller batch sizes required across the chemical industry; the increased efficiency and short development times demanded by aerospace manufacturers; and the shorter commissioning times allowed to industrial machine builders.
Siemens has a comprehensive, integrated portfolio designed to meet these needs, Batra said, stressing the importance of “meet points” between traditionally siloed digital solutions, even when they’re from the same supplier. “Integration is the challenge—you can’t just bolt on newly acquired technology,” Batra said.
Web-based distributed control
Another key focus at this year’s Summit was the U.S. debut of SIMATIC PCS neo, the new DCS platform first announced at April’s Hannover Messe in Germany. At its core, PCS neo represents a new visualization, engineering and collaboration environment that works atop the company’s existing PCS 7 Version 9 control system hardware. Intuitive usability was a top consideration in its development, as was enabling global collaboration among stakeholders.
With support for Module Type Packages already integrated, PCS neo is scalable from “small process modules up to the largest process plants in the world,” and since its unified visualization and engineering environment is based on HTML 5, no client-side software is needed beyond a standard web browser.
PCS neo also meets the cybersecurity requirements of IEC 62443. It’s designed to support multi-layer, "defense-in-depth" cybersecurity and consistently fulfills the specifications defined in the Charter of Trust, an alliance created to support cybersecure implementation of digital solutions.
“Key advantages of PCS neo are in system access, collaboration and scalability,” said Axel Lorenz, vice president, sales and verticals solutions, engineering & consulting, Siemens Digital Industries. “It provides a new world of efficiency and ease of use.”
Customer excellence recognized
At the opening keynote of the 2019 Automation Summit, Siemens also announced the winners of its 14th annual Customer Excellence Awards (CEA). These awards recognize Siemens’ customers and partners who exemplify advanced manufacturing and digitalization using Siemens technologies and solutions in their plants and manufacturing environments.
“Industrial facilities are truly working toward becoming digital enterprises and embracing digitalization like never before,” said Siemens’ Raj Batra. “This year’s Customer Excellence Award winners are using automation and digitalization to gain insight into their operations allowing them to become more efficient and flexible while maintaining security.”
Siemens 2019 Customer Excellence Award winners included:
Air Products and Chemicals for the use of MindSphere in its proprietary ProcessMD application, a web-based, predictive monitoring and fault-diagnostic platform. Third-party customers that own and operate their own plants can use ProcessMD to proactively monitor their plant conditions and gain insights. “MindSphere provides seamless data brokering from our customers’ plants to our ProcessMD platform to help detect and diagnose emerging issues,” said Stephen Cook, director of the Air Products Computational Technology Group.
BNSF Railway for its hump-yard modernization program that replaced obsolete control systems in hump yards across the country with modular, state-of-the-art control systems while the associated classification yards were still operating. “Environmentals, processor speed and product longevity were significant concerns. We were looking for one automation partner that was able to accommodate our challenging operating environments and adapt to future technological advancement,” explained Mark Vande Brake, assistant director of signal - terminals, BNSF.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems implemented a digitalization solution using SINUMERIK Integrate and Analyze My Condition (AMC). The programs provide the ability to analyze operational performance of their entire Siemens fleet and make predictive maintenance decisions, leading to improved reliability and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). In the future, the company has the goal of connecting devices in their entire 1.3 million square-foot manufacturing facility to “understand the overall status of my facility at a glance,” said a Northrop senior manager.
Dow Performance Silicones, which with Siemens initiated a special program called “PCS 7 health check” whose main objective was to optimize system reliability. Siemens and Dow organized a global task team that included executive management from both companies as well as a dedicated Siemens technical supervisor and embedded engineer. In less than two years, the collaboration and commitment from both companies started showing positive KPIs realizing a number of best practices, lessons learned and knowledge sharing. “The high level of quality collaboration between Dow and Siemens exemplifies our commitment to work together and continuously improve-continuously,” said Dow’s Brian Clemons.
KUKA Assembly and Test Corp. worked with Siemens to test Sinamics S120 drives versus legacy test-stand drives. They found them to meet and exceed the incumbent drive’s performance. Finding an end-user willing to change their standard test stands with the new Sinamics drives proved challenging. KUKA and Siemens were ultimately able to convince the customer that using dated technology was too risky. This was the first time Sinamics DCP has been used for battery simulation testing in the United States.